Merchandising professionals have devised a special form of torture for shoppers. Two days ago I went shopping for a couple items of clothing, actually walking into a “brick ‘n mortar’ retailer. Large Sale banners and placards were on many racks of summer wear and business attire. Though it is hardly ever “not” summer in Southern California, the national chains operate from Chicago and New York, where it is definitely cool and rainy.
On Friday, I went back to find a couple items I had overlooked in my travel preparations. The landscape has changed. Summer has gone missing. CHRISTMAS, the erstwhile “holiday” season ( it is now appropriate to again say “Christmas”; a merchandising change from the last nine or ten years) seems to have mushroomed overnight. Sappy Christmas tunes blare from the store speakers. Deliberately ugly sweaters and every sort of cheap Santa swag has replaced harvest colors and beachwear.
One lonely gent I made a comment to that about the Christmas sale in full swing, replied, and then seemed grateful to have someone to talk to about a lost love, selfishness, and gratitude for spurned marriage proposal. Something about Christmas and merchandising that just brings out the loneliness of some souls. And a clerk seemed grateful that I was more chatty and empathetic while she rang me up. Seems some shoppers are more interested in wrangling the last nickel of savings in coupons, expired ones, for an item that was already marked down fifty percent.
Fifty-one days until Christmas. For this gentleman I spoke with that night, it is a particular form of torture to have a birthday within a couple weeks of Christmas. I guess a birthday during the most commercialized holiday of the year, or sharing it with the Creator – even though most study suggests it was in the late winter or early Spring – is sometimes overlooked in the hoopla; gifts come in Christmas, not birthday, wrapping paper. I empathized with that fellow – he’s a few years my senior. However, for the next seven weeks, my family will be fighting to keep the jingle in our hearts and not the jingling bells of cash registers.